SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - The adoptive parents of Erica Parsons appeared before a federal judge on Wednesday afternoon, hours after they were arrested on dozens of fraud charges.
Casey and Sandy Parsons were arrested at their Fayetteville home on Wednesday morning around 6 a.m. by federal agents and charged with 76 counts of fraud-related crimes.
Their son, Jamie Parsons, told WBTV that federal agents kicked the door in, guns drawn, when they came to serve the warrants on his parents.
He also said that over the previous two days, his mother indicated that she knew she was going to be arrested.
"Momma said she knew that they were coming. She had a feeling they were coming," Jamie said.
Erica Parsons was reported missing on July 30, 2013 by her adoptive brother, Jamie Parsons, who said she had not been seen since November 2011. She was 13 years old when she disappeared.
The Parsons moved to Fayetteville in August 2013 after Erica's disappearance made national headlines. Federal agents picked up the couple around 6 a.m. and drove them to a federal courthouse in Winston-Salem.
They appeared before a federal judge at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.
Casey and Sandy Parsons both asked for court-appointed attorneys and were granted the request by the judge.
The government requested each be held in prison on a $25,000 secured bond, meaning they'd be able to get out of prison by posting $2,500. They told the judge they would not be able to get that amount of money.
The judge then granted each of them a $25,000 unsecured bond and they were released from jail.
Both will be held on an electronic monitoring system. The details around their restrictions is still being worked out.
A melee broke out as the Parsons left the courthouse Wednesday. Surrounded by media, Casey pushed aside microphones to get in the back of a car driven by a young man who was with the Parsons' daughter, Brooklyn.
The driver hit the gas, but Brooklyn wasn't all the way in the car and she fell out onto the ground. Brooklyn Parsons got up quickly and got back in the car as it left a parking deck.
According to the fraud indictment filed against the couple, from February 2010 to August 2013, Sandy Parsons, 40, and Casey Parsons, 39, committed tax fraud, mail fraud, theft of government funds, and identity theft, and engaged in a conspiracy to defraud the government.
Their son, Jamie, said he was surprised to hear how many charges his parents were facing.
"I didn't think it would be so many charges... At all," he said, "I would think there would be like one or two."
The indictment alleges that the Parsons received government funded adoption assistance, Medicaid, Social Security, and Food and Nutrition Services benefits for a dependent that did not live with them and used the mail to commit the fraud.
The indictment also alleges that Casey Parsons fraudulently used the identities of other persons as dependents and used other false information when preparing federal tax returns.
Sandy and Casey Parsons are charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the government, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine; twenty counts of theft of government funds, each of which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine; and twenty counts of mail fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
WEB EXTRA: Read the full indictment here
The indictment also charges Sandy Parsons with one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory sentence of two years, consecutive to any other sentence, and a $250,000 fine; and one count of false statement to a government agency, which carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Casey Parsons is also charged with one count of false pretense in a health care matter, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine; two counts of Social Security fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine; fifteen counts of aggravated identity theft, each of which carries a mandatory sentence of two years, consecutive to any other sentence, and a $250,000 fine; two counts of false statement to a government agency, each of which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine; six counts of aiding in the preparation of a false tax return, each of which carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine; six counts of wire fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison and a $250,000 fine; and one count of making false claim against the government, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Sandy and Casey Parsons are scheduled to have their initial appearance at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem.
The financial dealings of the Parsons came into the investigation at the earliest stage.
When Erica's adoptive brother James Parsons first reported Erica missing in July, he told investigators that Sandy and Casey continued to receive checks from the state of North Carolina. The checks amounted to a little over $600 per month.
The Parsons' attorney, Carlyle Sherrill, admitted in October 2013 that his clients did receive the checks, but said that they had a right to since they were the legal caregivers for Erica Parsons.
But when the home along Miller Chapel Road in Salisbury was searched by investigators on August 14, they "failed to locate any evidence of Erica Parsons still living here or any evidence that her room or personal living area still remained in the home."
They further concluded that "Sandy and Casey Parsons knew Erica would not be returning." In addition, according to an SBI search warrant, "Casey Stone Parsons and Sandy Parsons, Sr., stated Erica was adopted and that they received financial aid after Erica left their custody in 2011."
There is also a history to consider when it comes to financial matters and the Parsons.
Amy Miller, a Michigan woman, says she hired Casey Parsons to carry her child August 2001. Miller says Parsons claimed to have a miscarriage, but didn't. Five months later, Miller was finally able track down Parson and take home her son. She has the DNA test to prove he is hers.
Three years later, according to court records, Sandy and Casey Parsons took Erica, then 6 years old, to live with another family member. That family member told investigators "they took custody of Erica for about 8 months after Casey Parsons called them and said she could not stand to look at Erica."
In addition, according to court documents, "after about 8 months Casey Stone Parsons resumed custody of Erica and said that she was afraid that the Department of Social Services would find out that she did not have her and she was still getting money for her." At that time Erica returned to the home of Sandy and Casey Parsons.
As the current investigation continued, on August 12, 2013, the SBI learned from BB&T on Jake Alexander Boulevard in Salisbury that Casey and Sandy Parsons had accounts at the bank that included recent activity.
The FBI also found records through the PayPal accounts of Sandy and Casey Parsons that they had financial accounts with SunTrust Bank on W. Innes Street, Salisbury, Wells Fargo on S. Main Street in Salisbury, and Bank of America on W. Innes Street, Salisbury.
The SBI believes that "the continued desire to utilize the funds, proceeds, or financial assistance intended for the care and benefit of Erica Lynn Parsons resulted in the delay or outright denial to report Erica Lynn Parsons missing in a timely or reasonable time frame."
The SBI concluded in October 2013 that "this institutes probable cause to believe a crime, obtaining property by false pretenses, has occurred."
Financial records were seized during a search of the Parsons Rowan County home back in August 2013.
A list of seized inventory includes a Wells Fargo deposit slip, a Wells Fargo check and withdrawal slip for Shirley B. Parsons, the daughter of Casey Parsons, and several other items that could have dealt with financial records.
All of the financial records and documents seized from the house, a storage shed, and the various banks were processed by the FBI.